The Descrambler Interface, A Progress Report (1983)

By Elliott S. Kohn, RCA Laboratories

The incompatibility between full-feature TV receivers and cable systems with scrambling has been discussed before in this forum, and is well known in the industry. TV receivers that tune the special cable channels are available, but their sophisticated tuning and remote-control features cannot be used in scrambled cable systems providing combined converter-descramblers. Last year, we proposed a standardized decoder interface for TV receivers, that would permit cable operators to supply relatively inexpensive decoder modules to subscribers for use with such receivers. The Electronic Industries Association and the National Cable Television Association have sponsored working groups to define such an interface. Considerations included which types of scrambling can be provided for without compromising cable security or unduly burdening the manufacturing cost of TV receivers. Connections useful for other video accessories as well as descramblers are obviously preferred. The problem is complicated by the numerous scrambling methods in use and being introduced. The progress of the industry working groups will be discussed.

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